CAMP PENDLETON — Marines from Wounded Warrior Battalion–West took to the waves during an Ocean Therapy Program hosted by a local foundation at the Del Mar beach on Camp Pendleton, Aug. 30.
Ocean Therapy sessions are held on base twice each month, and provide the Marines a chance to learn to surf in an encouraging atmosphere, while focusing on the therapeutic benefits of the ocean.
“Therapy like this is exactly what we need,” said Lance Cpl. Aubrey Egolf, a Marine currently undergoing therapy for a non-combat related injury. “When you’re out there on the waves nothing else matters.”
Before the Marines took to the water, a team of volunteers ranging from mental health professionals to professional surfers held a group discussion to share stories of triumph and tribulations.
During the discussions, Marines, instructors and volunteers explained their particular situation and expressed what they hope to achieve from the program.
“We start off the session with a group discussion so we can all know each other and know how to help one another,” said Nancy Miller, program director of the Ocean Therapy program. “Our goal is to help rejuvenate and rehabilitate those who have sacrificed so much just so the citizens of this country can live their lives freely.”
Before the Marines took to the waves, they were taught the basics of surfing on shore by a professional surfer.
They then applied the fundamentals in the water with their very own personalized surf instructor, who helped them catch the perfect waves.
“When I’m out there on my board and the waves are moving me side to side, nothing else matters,” Egolf said. “There are a lot of rehab programs out there for us, but this one works the best (for me) because it really shows that even with limitations, you can still have as much fun as everyone else.”
To conclude the therapy program, the aspiring surfers gathered in the sand for another discussion on how the program could be better and to express their gratitude to the volunteers.
“I couldn’t be more proud at how well each Marine did,” Miller said. “They never give up even when faced with some of life’s toughest challenges it’s not only honor but a privilege to be out on the water with them.”